In a national breeding market marked by a slow decline in activity the past decade or so, Pennsylvania has been holding fairly well.

In 2019, Pennsylvania was seventh nationally by number of mares bred, with 792, or 2.7 percent of all activity in the United States. Two years earlier, the state was ninth by number of mares bred. The number of mares bred in 2019 in the state was a 16.5 percent increase over 2018, a positive indicator of the strength of the state program as activity nationally declined last year.

One reason the market has embraced Pennsylvania is because purses have remained strong. In 2018, the most recent year of complete racing data, Pennsylvania was fifth nationally by total purses distributed ($93.4 million) at its three Thoroughbred tracks – Parx Racing, Penn National, and Presque Isle – and was second nationally by number of races offered (3,673). Pennsylvania-breds flourished in that environment, as they earned more than 70 percent of their money at tracks in the state.

When it comes to the state’s stallions, their flock followed national patterns of a marked decline in numbers. In 2019, there were just 34 stallions who covered mares, 2.9 percent of total active stallions in the United States, but they did cover an average book of 23.3 mares, fourth highest of any state.

The state of stallions in Pennsylvania is a bit uncertain moving forward, however, as two of the most popular and successful sires in recent years, Jump Start and El Padrino, are deceased. And many of the up-and-comers near the top ranks of the state sire list have yet to have runners conceived in the state, having moved to the state recently.

Jump Start, Pennsylvania’s leader by earnings by more than $1 million over second-place Warrior’s Reward, died of complications from colic in May of last year while standing at Northview PA. The son of A.P. Indy has been the leading sire four times since moving from Overbrook Farm in Kentucky for the 2012 breeding season, and was second three times. In 2017, Northview PA lost the Pulpit stallion El Padrino, who finished 2019 as the third-leading sire by state earnings.

Jump Start, with six stakes winners and progeny earnings of $5.4 million in 2019, has the second-most starters among state sires. His leading earner last year was the stakes-placed filly Hey Mamaluke, who at 3 won 5 of 11 starts and earned $222,019. His best runner was the filly Vault, winner of the Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes at Laurel at 3 who also set a track record for a mile and 70 yards at Penn National. At the time of his death, Jump Start had the highest stud fee for any stallion in the state, at $10,000.

Warrior’s Reward, who moved to Pennsylvania in 2019 from Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky, was the leading state sire by progeny earnings the year before, but he has yet to produce any statebred runners. The son of Medaglia d’Oro will stand at WynOaks Farm for a $5,000 stud fee this year. Warrior’s Reward’s leading earner in 2019 was stakes-placed Night Ops, second in the $300,000 Oaklawn Invitational Stakes for 3-year-olds and earner of $249,921.

El Padrino’s leading runner in 2019 was Maryland Million Sprint winner Taco Supream, who earned $201,127 last year.

Flashback, fourth on the state list, also is a recent import, moving from Hill ‘n’ Dale in Kentucky in 2019 to stand at Double Diamond Farm for a fee of $3,500. He had a champion with the 2-year-old filly British Idiom from his last crop. In January, both Ice Box and Desert Party moved to Pennsylvania and immediately became the sixth- and seventh-leading sires, respectively, by 2019 progeny earnings.

You have to drop down to Weigelia, in eighth, to find a living, active stallion who has Pennsylvania-bred runners. Weigelia stands at WynOaks, where he has been since retiring to stud in 2010.

In ninth is the Pennsylvania-bred hero Smarty Jones, who is in his second tenure as Pennsylvania sire, having stood there from 2011 to 2015. He left Calumet Farm in Kentucky to take up residence at Equistar Training and Breeding in 2019.

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